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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House passes franchise bill for Baptists
10-January-2017, 10:26:41 AM

The House of Representatives, prior to the congressional adjournment, approved on second reading a bill which seeks to grant the Iloilo Baptist Church, Inc. a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio and television broadcasting stations in the country.

The approved House Bill 4636, in substitution to House Bill 4110, was endorsed by the House committee on legislative franchise chaired by Rep. Franz E. Alvarez (1st District, Palawan).

Rep. Jerry P. Treñas (Lone District, Iloilo City), principal author of the bill, said through the years, the Iloilo Baptist Church (IBC), located at Lopez Jaena Street, Jaro, Iloilo City and established by a missionary from the United States of America, has been successful in its many ministries.

Its ministries include conversions of souls, preaching, distributors of bibles/religious materials and others, not only in Iloilo City and Iloilo province, but also in Antique, Kalibo, Capiz and many parts of Negros Island.

Treñas said to expand its ministries, pastors and church members from the USA donated radio equipment and broadcast facilities to the IBC.

“This prompted the officers and members of the Board of Trustees to establish a radio station within its campus,” he said.

Treñas further said the frequency of the said radio station is 106.3FM and shall be known as the “Iloilo, The Anchor Broadcasting Company.”

“The main objective is to spread the Gospel especially to people located in remote areas to strengthen their faith and trust in God almighty,” said Treñas.

Treñas said the radio station shall be exclusively used for church ministry and shall not be used for commercial purposes.

“The operator and staff of the said radio station shall all be pastors of the IBC who shall render their services for free,” he said.

The operation and maintenance of the radio station shall be contributions and love gifts of church members and pastors, Treñas added.

The bill, subject to the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and applicable laws, rules and regulations, grants to the Iloilo Baptist Church, Inc. referred to as the grantee, its successors or assignees, a franchise to construct, install, operate and maintain for non-commercial purposes and in the public interest, radio and/or television broadcasting stations in the country, where frequencies and/or channels are still available for radio and/or television broadcasting and to install radio communication facilities for the grantee’s use in its broadcast services.

It also provides that stations or facilities of the grantee shall be constructed and operated in a manner as will, at most, result only in the minimum interference on the wavelengths or frequencies of existing stations or other stations without in any way diminishing its own right to use its assigned wavelengths or frequencies.

It directs the grantee to secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) the appropriate permits and licenses for the construction and operation of its stations and facilities.

The grantee is likewise mandated to provide adequate public service time to enable the government, through the said broadcasting stations or facilities, to reach the population on important public issues and provide at all times sound and balanced programming, among others.

A special right is also reserved to the President of the Philippines to temporarily take over and operate the stations or facilities of the grantee, including to temporarily suspend the operation of any station or facility in the interest of public safety, security and public welfare in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency disaster, or disturbance of peace and order.

The proposal states the franchise shall be in effect for a period of 25 years, unless sooner revoked or cancelled.

The bill also includes provisions on the bond the grantee has to file with the NTC, the self-regulation by and undertaking of the grantee, the warranty in favor of the national and local governments a well as on the provision about the sale, lease, transfer, grant of usufruct, or assignment of franchise.

The grantee is directed to submit an annual report to the Congress of the Philippines, through the Committee on Legislative Franchise of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Public Service of the Senate, on its compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchise and on its operations on or before April 30 of every year during the term of its franchise. The reportorial compliance certificate issued by Congress shall be required before any application for permit or certificate is accepted by the NTC.

Failure of the grantee to submit the requisite annual report to Congress will be penalized by a fine in the amount of P500 per working day of noncompliance. The fine will be collected by the NTC from the delinquent franchise grantee separate from the reportorial penalties imposed by the NTC.

Aside from Treñas and Alvarez, the bill is authored by Reps. Sherwin N. Tugna (Part-list, CIBAC), Aniceto D. Bertiz III (Party-list, ACTS OFW), Ma. Lourdes R. Agabbao (4th District, Isabela) and Teodoro G. Montoro (Party-list, AASENSO).